Tell us about your Carbon Neutral Club and what inspired you to start it?
The story of Carbon Neutral Club starts with my childhood. I’m Canadian but grew up on the east coast of the states as a little surfer kid out in the water. My love for nature grew from there and manifested in my early 20s by learning as much as possible about sustainability and incorporating it into my daily life.
About a year ago, my co-founders and I realized that climate was getting attention like never before, which was amazing, but when we dug into it, despite all this attention it wasn’t translating into action for the average individual. We thought that was curious and we dug into it to understand why.
We learned there are two barriers preventing people from taking climate action:
- Complexity: Climate change is a massive problem and its hard for people to understand how their daily decisions can make a positive impact
- Cost: It’s a little more expensive to live sustainably.
We quit our jobs a year ago to make climate action accessible to everyone.Carbon Neutral Club Team Members, clockwise: Jack Bruner, Jeff Packer, Roee Eidan, Anne Boucher, Alex Andrekovic
How specifically does it relate to sustainable design, production and/or consumption?
The whole premise of CNC is to make climate action accessible to everyone. That starts with making it easy for individuals to estimate their carbon footprint and understand it and subsequently offset it. That’s the start.
But where sustainable consumption comes in is the second value prop of the business.
We make it easier for the customer to find the sustainable purchasing option at a reduced price across all spend categories of their life. Whether it’s clothing or coffee or soaps for the kitchen.
We do pretty extensive due diligence whenever we bring the brand onto the platform. We assess holistically from a sustainability perspective. So, what raw materials is the company putting into its products, where are they sourced, how are they manufacturing and fulfilled?
Beyond that, all the founders who are brought onto the Carbon Neutral care immensely about the planet and also have social issues baked into the company itself. We think critically about the founders we bring on, including how they treat their employees and the social organizations and causes they support. It’s a pretty holistic look but it all starts with understanding the product and how it’s created.
What community or customer behaviors are you hoping to create or reinforce?
There are two key behaviors we’re trying to create: one is understanding and offsetting your carbon footprint and the other is conscious consumerism with sustainably-minded brands.
By enabling people to estimate their carbon footprint, they're able to understand the aspects of their lives that contribute to climate change.
We’re rolling out a whole suite in the platform that helps you reduce your carbon footprint once you’ve estimated it. It will give you challenges to reduce your carbon footprint over time. We’re using the carbon footprint calculation as the anchor to help people make better decisions as it relates to climate and climate change.
The second aspect is our marketplace. Our marketplace directs purchasing power away from traditional brands that aren’t doing great things from an environmental perspective and toward brands that were founded with sustainability at their core. By doing that, we can change purchasing behavior for the better, en masse. We’re always going to need to buy stuff, but we want to buy better and only buy when we need to.
What is one of the most helpful or enlightening lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The thing that resonates so strongly with our team is, at the end of the day what matters most is your friends and family and the people around you. If you can understand and embody that on a day-to-day basis, it will allow you to have more balance in your work, do a better job at your work and create more meaning in your work.
Just staying leveled and balanced and remembering what’s most important in this life isn’t the business - it’s your friends and family. If you can apply that mindset at the workplace, you’ll make better decisions and it will make it a little less stressful because entrepreneurship is difficult. It’s about prioritizing what’s important.
What’s the biggest problem you’re currently trying to solve?
It comes back to the reduction piece. We’ve had a lot of success in growing our membership base organically over time, having people estimate and offset their carbon footprint. That’s amazing and very impactful. But the next step and arguably the more impactful step is helping people reduce their carbon footprint over time, in a fun way. So they can live a life that contributes less toward climate change. If we can succeed in doing that, that’s how we’ll have a huge impact.
We’re trying to figure out how we can create a reduction in a way that brings people together.
A lot of our growth has been a result of our employee program. We allow companies to make their entire workforce carbon neutral. If you can engage your employees in climate action, that’s how you build a community. Each employer touches tens or hundreds or thousands of people. We’re thinking about how we can get individuals to compete with each other in a fun way and have a camaraderie around climate action? How can we get companies to compete in a friendly way? There’s a big and exciting opportunity to build a ground-up climate movement across individuals and organizations.
Follow Jeff at Carbon Neutral Club